How do we judge attractions successful?

The Magic Kingdom, 1977
The Magic Kingdom, 1977

We are passed the mid-way point through the semester. Students should be digging deep now to start on their projects to have them finished in the time allowed.  Their mid-term paper will be focused on developing two of their five criteria to evaluate their chosen attractions.  The criteria are based on several sources, notably from International Tourism Studies–“Best Destinations: The Gold Standards: Proposed Best Destinations Evaluation Criteria and Standards.”

Criteria are developed from their ten identifiers:

The 10 As of Successful Tourism Destinations (Morrison, 2013)

o Awareness: Related to tourists’ level of knowledge about the destination and is influenced by the amount and nature of the information they receive.
o Attractiveness: Number and geographic scope of appeal of the destination’s attractions comprise this attribute.
o Availability: Determined by the ease with which bookings and reservations can be made for the destination, and the number of booking and reservation channels available.
o Access: Convenience of getting to and from the destination, as well as moving around within the destination.
o Appearance: Measures the impressions that the destination makes on tourists, both when they first arrive and then throughout their stays in the destination.
o Activities: Extent of the array of activities available to tourists within the destination.
o Assurance: The safety and security of the destination for tourists.
o Appreciation: The feeling of the levels of welcome and hospitality.
o Action: The availability of a long-term tourism plan and a marketing plan for tourism are some of the required actions.
o Accountability: The evaluation of performance by the destination management organization (DMO).

They need to identify their criteria, state the definition by Morrison, and then interpret what that means.  Then derive variables, statements or questions from their research information about that criteria.  For instance, Attractiveness stipulates an appeal.  Appeal means you like something.  You found something agreeable.  We settled on a definition and interpretation.  And so I posed several questions.  Why do tourist like a destination or attraction?  We worked through this criteria in class as an example and utilized Disney.  Since most had visited Disney World in Florida, I asked them, as tourist, what did you like about Disney?  We gained a lot of different answers–location, climate, nice employees, variety of attractions, etc.  I asked what didn’t you like about Disney?  A few more questions were asked, and we teased out a host of verbs and adjectives.

Those verbs and adjectives become the variables that describe the criteria.  One student came after class to discuss it further and I rather liked how she constructed statements and questions surrounding those variables.  One that stood out was: “Does this attraction leave a lasting impression?”  As part of the project they need to articulate these variables, and what they mean from their point of view.  I don’t have insight into their thoughts without it.  My crystal ball is broken and I can’t read their minds.  I asked her what do you mean by impression.  Fifteen minutes later she had a good handle on what she meant.  And we were able to find more information for her to digest, namely visitor surveys and other statistical information already published about the attraction.

Within tourism, people travel to destinations because there is something to see or do.  Therefore, success hinges on the developing worthwhile attractions.  Something that will attract tourist time and time again.  Hence, why Disney is so successful.  They are constantly changing, updating to trends and taste, to their movies and interests.

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